By Jannie Vaught,

Tomatoes are for this gardener finishing up as the temperatures have soared to above 100!

But this is the time for harvesting the final crop and enjoying the fruits of your labor. For me it has been tomato canning time and as I grow Heirloom tomatoes, saving the abundant seeds for next year and to share with fellow gardeners. Saving heirloom seeds is a great way of adding variety to your garden that are adapted to your soil and your growing zone. Tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and fruits that have seeds in jell capsules have an anti sprouting jell on them that keeps them from sprouting for approximately 1 year, or until the next growing season if it were to fall to the ground and rot or ferment then it would sprout next season.

If you are planning to save seeds for a longer duration the anti-gel coating needs to be removed and that is done with the natural work of fermentation. How to save those jelly encased seeds. First Heirloom plants are the ones you want, they have been growing year after year as nature intended. Let them fully ripen on the vine, for cucumbers they need to get big and yellow. Now use the best ones, no blight or disease, cat-faced and marred fruit are good to use for saving. Have several containers ready with the name written on the container. Cut the tomato from stem to blossom end, now cut again to make quarters. The jelly seeds are in 4 or 5 sections. Take your finger and simply scrape the jell and seeds into your container. I use the tomatoes after this as I waste nothing and these are great canned or made into sauce. Now fill the container with water. about 1 inch. I place a paper towel over them and let them sit at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. A film will form over the top, now they are ready to wash. Have a small metal strainer ready. Pour the fermented seeds and jell into the strainer and place them under running water. Use your fingers and gently rub the seeds against the screen, the jell will push through the screen and you will have clean seeds. To dry place them in a clean pie plate or plate and set to dry for several days. Store in a clean jar or zip lock bag and write the variety and date.

These need to be stored in a dark cabinet away from heat or light and will be good for several years. Use this same fermenting process for all seeds held in the anti sprouting jell. As we learned last season it became a challenge to obtain seeds, but if your growing heirloom you have next years seeds already waiting.

Growing Green With Jannie